Pork’s Popsicles

by Mark on November 30, 2009

 

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The blow surprised him.  Pork flew backwards against his ice cream cart landing painfully near the large spoked wheel.  His upper lip ached as blood trickled from his nose.  Huddled around him stood a half dozen high school football players.  Huge and grimy with blackened eyes and scraped knees, they were surprised that the teasing had gotten out of hand.  Towering over him with clenched fists was Brad, their quarterback.

“You want some more, troll?”

Pork looked away.

“Come on Brad, leave the freshman alone,” insisted a giant lineman with a Mohawk haircut.

“Butt out of this, Nate.  This punk needs to show me some respect.  Now, one free cherry Popsicle as requested, courtesy of the freshman troll,” laughed Brad as he reached into the freezer.  “Plus an extra one for all the trouble.”

Nate helped Pork up and whispered, “Better not push it, kid.  This guy can be a creep.”

He and the other players headed for the locker room, picking up some wrappers along the way.

“Look, you fat little turd,” taunted Brad.  “I expect one free Popsicle each practice.  Now how many is that per day?”

Brad was six feet with long black hair and a sizable gap between his two front teeth.  His bumpy nose had been broken a few times.  While he and Pork may have been the same weight, the quarterback’s poundage was proportioned around a muscular chest and arms.  Pork’s poundage rounded his face, doubled his chin and enlarged his belly.  Brad grabbed him by the shirt.

“I’m talking to you, PORK,” he shouted as he shook him.  “How many free Popsicles are you giving me tomorrow?”

“Two,” he mumbled.

Brad stuffed a Popsicle in his mouth, tossed the other into a trashcan and strutted to the locker room.  He turned before entering.

“Don’t think about skipping practice, Porky.  I’ll hunt you down!”

Pork pulled out a cleaning rag and held it against his nose.  The ammonia stung.  Blood stained the plaid shirt and his upper lip was throbbing.  He picked up the remaining garbage and got on the bike.  A brass bell, hanging on the side, clanged as he chugged up the grassy hill to the road.  The red cycle shook on each rut.  A white freezer with colorful decals, straddling two front wheels, seemed as if it might fall off.  Although it was late in the afternoon, the August sun re-baked his face and arms.  It would have been a good time to cry.  Too bad Matt was waiting for him.

Pork’s lanky friend grinned, and shook his head in mock dismay, as the cart approached.  His black hair shone with hair spray.  Thick horned rimmed glasses slipped forward on his long skinny nose.

“Well, was it worth it?”

“You saw what happened!”

“I saw you get your face smashed in for being a cheapskate.”

“He wasn’t going to pay . . .”

“So what?  You should’ve backed off and given him a ‘freebie’.  I would’ve hit you too if you’d stuck your grubby hand out at me.”

Pork dabbed his nose one more time and stuffed the rag inside the bell.

“How are all the little kiddies going to go screaming to their mommies for money if they can’t hear the bell?”

Pork startled down the street without replying.  It was strange to bump over the potholes without the clanging.  Matt caught up on his bike.

“Where’re you going?  The pool’s the other way.”

“Going home.”

“Quit pouting, Pork!  That pool’s a gold mine.  You always sell out.”

“You just want to see Katie.”

“Hell yes!  Now turn around!”

“Shirt’s too bloody.”

Matt inspected the brown plaid sport shirt that stretched around Pork’s chubby sides.  “It looks like chocolate.  Now c’mon Porky.”

“Not today.”

Matt pedaled off in disgust.  Only then did Pork begin to cry.  Embarrassed and frustrated tears streamed down his chubby cheeks.  The ice cream business had been a source of pride.  He bought the cart in May and repaid the loan by Independence Day.  From morning to nightfall he peddled the cart up and down the streets of his town.  Excited children ran screaming to their mothers for coins at the sound of the bell.  The cash box was getting heavier with each trip to the bank.  He had tried using a coin changer, but became too self-conscious on how tight it fit around his belly.

Neighbors were not his only customers.  Pork discovered a few factories where he timed his arrival to their afternoon breaks.  A local stamping plant was a daily stop.  Here metal plates were loudly, and sometimes dangerously, slammed into different shapes.  Although business was brisk, Pork was still unnerved by the sight of hands with missing fingers fumbling for change.  He would grip the handlebars tightly, feeling each of his fingers, for several blocks after leaving the site.

Until recently the municipal swimming pool was the only large source of customers.  As it lacked a snack bar, Pork realized tremendous sales each day as it closed.  He could not imagine a greater windfall.  Then he discovered the high school football team.

At eleven and four o’clock each day over forty gasping and wheezing players returned from grueling workouts in the nearly one hundred degree heat.  They discharged remaining adrenaline from practice by slapping and punching the freezer.  He sold a hundred Popsicles per practice for nearly a week without a problem — until today.

Pork composed himself before reaching home.  Headquarters was in a shed attached to the garage.  Inside was a large freezer and enough room to store the cart.  Pork began the daily ritual of cleaning the vehicle under a single light bulb swaying from a cord.  Less than an hour later Matt returned.

“Those kiddies at the pool were real disappointed you didn’t show up, Porky.”

“You’re back early.  Did you see Katie?”

“She was so hot in that little bikini, but she’s pissed at you.  I promised her an ice cream bar.”

“I’ll give you a discount on those.”  Pork pointed to a melted puddle of chocolate and wrappers in the trash can.

“Didn’t you put ice in the freezer?”

“Dry ice vaporizes during the day.  Some of the stuff in the corners melts.  That’s why I have to clean it every night.”

“Someone is going to have to clean you off the cart, if you piss off Brad again.”

“I can’t keep giving away free Popsicles.”

“Why not?  It’s a small price for all that business.”

“Do you think Brad will stop with the Popsicle’s’ Next, he’ll be beating us for lunch money in the Fall.”

“Us?”

“Why not?  You’re an easy target and no one’s stopped him . . . not yet anyway.”

“Porky, you can’t be thinking about messing with him again.”

“Not much choice.”

“Sure there is.  Give him the Popsicles.  We’ll sew our lunch money to our underwear.”

“Hey, if I ever decide to start giving away free Popsicles, Lauren will be the first.”

“She is a babe!”  Matt grinned.  “Go ahead and try it.”

“Oh yeah.  She’d love me about as long as it would take to eat it.  Then she’d be gone before I could pick up the wrapper.

“How do you know?”

“I already tried it.”

They both chuckled as Pork toyed with the dry ice.  He squeezed it in his fist.  The steamy vapor filtered out of his fingers.

“Doesn’t that burn?”

“Nah, I’m used to handling it.”

Pork tossed it into the soap bucket.  It bubbled in the suds like a witch’s brew.

“Let me try.”  Matt reached for the bucket.

“No!  Your hands have to be dry.  Otherwise it’ll freeze against your skin.”

With hands dry Matt was able to handle the ice, but still bounced it about painfully like a hot potato.  When they finally threw all of it into the bucket, boiling suds spilled over the sides.

“You going back to football practice tomorrow?”

“Yeah.”  Pork seemed mesmerized by the bubbling brew.

“I’ll sing at your funeral.”  Matt left him staring into the silver bucket.

****

The next afternoon two scrimmage lines faced each other.  The players wilted in the heat.

“One more play.  Make me proud!”  The coach shouted.

The lines crashed together as Brad dropped back to pass.  Three defenders broke through and slammed the quarterback to the turf.

“Brad, you got concrete in those cleats,” screamed the coach.  I haven’t seen any hustle all day.”

“I need some blocking!”

“Blame us?” yelled Nate.  “Maybe if you concentrated on football, instead of beating up freshmen, you wouldn’t be landing on your ass.”

“Get out of my face,” Brad snarled while getting up.  “He’s just a little troll.”

“Well your little troll wasn’t at morning practice.  Thanks to our star quarterback, we’re drinking warm Gatorade.”

“Knock it off and hit the showers,” barked the coach.

Brad led his teammates up from the practice field.  The humidity was up and he was dehydrated.

“It’ll probably be good if the troll doesn’t shows up,” he thought.  “These guys will get over it and I can deal with Porky in private.”

“Hey Brad,” Nate yelled.  “Looks like the ice cream kid has some balls.”

There was Pork standing by the locker room door polishing the white freezer.  Brad put on his most intimidating face and charged up to him.

“Where were you this morning, chubby?  I ought to charge you extra for leaving me high and dry.”  He poked his index finger into Pork’s soft chest with every word.

“Give me my free Popsicle  . . . PORKEEEE!”

Pork looked back to the road at Matt, who was shouting encouragement from a safe distance.  “Don’t be stupid, Pork.  Give him the damn Popsicle.”

Pork sighed and reached deep into the freezer and produced a cherry Popsicle.

“I see you’ve wised up.”

Brad gloated as he held the trophy aloft.  He quickly tore off the wrapping and tossed it to the ground.  Other players milled around the cart buying handfuls of the frozen treats.  A trainer bought a box for the coaches.  In the distance Pork heard Matt whistling and clapping.  Over the voices and clinking coins he heard a frantic moan came from the crowd.  Something was wrong with Brad.  A Popsicle protruded from his frozen lips like a wooden tongue.  He struggled, yanked, and tugged at the stick but was unable to remove it.  His arms were waving and eyes were bulging.  Brad sank to his knees begging for help.  Snorting breaths through his nose sent alarmed teammates scurrying for the trainer.

“How’d you do that?”  Nate grinned.

“I don’t know.  Maybe he got one of the ones I put between two sheets of dry ice while you guys were practicing this morning.”

Coaches and the trainer crowded around their quarterback.  Using moisture from a sun-warmed water bottle and a towel, the trainer was able to loosen Brad’s lips and tongue from the red ice.  His lips had lost a layer of skin and the tongue was missing a couple of taste buds, but the quarterback was fine.

“God damn it I thought I’d have that thing sticking out of my mouth for the rest of my life,” he whined.

The head coach turned to Pork.  “I don’t want to see you around here anymore.  Now pick up the garbage and get out of here!  The rest of you hit the showers.”

Brad glared back at Pork as the football squad entered the locker room.  Pork began picking up wrappers and sticks as Matt yelled from the hilltop.

“Brilliant plan!  You’ve lost the business and that creep is still going to kick the crap out of you.  Beautiful plan . . . Wait a minute . . . Watch out Porky!  He’s right behind . . .”

Pork was slammed from behind into the cart.  Brad spun him around and cocked his fist.

“You’ve embarrassed me for the last time . . .”

Before he could swing someone grabbed Brad by the shoulder pads, lifting him in the air like a marionette.

“Leave the kid alone,” roared Nate.

“This is none of your business!”

“If you touch the kid again, I am going to put a world of hurt on you.”

“I’ll tell the coach . . .”

Nate released him and grinned.

“Brad . . . Brad, there will be nothing to tell.  A missed block, like today, and some linebacker takes your head off.  Or I go up for a rebound during basketball season and accidentally land on you.  In the Spring my shot-put toss goes off course and . . .”

“You wouldn’t hurt your quarterback?”

Nate quit smiling.  “We got a lot of quarterback ‘wannabes’.  I’m not going to throw my body in front of someone who only picks on the weak.  Show some courage if you want to be my quarterback.  Get my drift?”

Brad pondered the sermon a few moments before replying, “Okay, I get it.”

Nate extended his hand and Brad shook it.  The lineman put his arm over the quarterback’s shoulder as they headed for the locker room and said, “Brad, don’t worry about losing a little tongue.  You had no taste in the first place.”

Matt was waiting for Pork as he pedaled up the hill.  “Was it worth it?  A hundred sales per practice.  All gone for one stinking Popsicle.  Was it really worth it?”

“You bet!”  Pork grinned.  “Now we don’t have to sew our lunch money to our underwear.

“Where to now?”

“The pool!  We still have time before it closes.”

“Great!  I promised Katie I’d buy her a Fudge Bar.”

“You got any money?”

“C’mon you cheapskate.  Just this once?”

“Well, because of all your loyal support, I could give you some special Popsicles.  They’re sandwiched between the ice . . .”

“Not on your life, Porky.  Maybe Katie has some coins hidden in that bikini,” laughed Matt as the two peddled toward the pool.

The End

Popsicle Sales

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

chloe October 14, 2010 at 5:55 pm

mmm lokks like goood popcicles!i sure wish i had one right now.

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